Humans can be innate mothers to any species, at least this incident proves – a baby zebra who lost her mum to a pride of lions is now taken care of by keepers who do their best to make it feel at home and not miss his mum.
According to Sheldrick Wildlife, two keepers at Sheldrick Wildlife Trust’s Voi Reintegration Unit reportedly wear the black and white-stripped zebra-patterned dress to tend a male zebra calf.
His mother was killed by a pride of lion – an unfortunate but a natural phenomenon at Tsavo East National Park in Kenya.
But baby zebra had a miraculous escape from the attack, and he hid amid heard of a goat. Now Diria and Nzuki, two keepers at the Voi Reintegration have taken the role of a zebra mom.
The two carers take turns to perform the invaluable role of a ‘surrogate mom’ to Diriai, who certainly had a jerky ride at the onset of his life.
“In the wild, zebra foals imprint on their mother’s striped pattern,” the wildlife trust explains.
“So we created identical striped coats that can be worn by the Keepers on zebra duty so that Diria can imprint as nature intended, without becoming overly attached to any one individual,’ the Sheldrick Wildlife writes in a Facebook post.
“We have employed this technique with the many orphaned zebras we have successfully raised over the years and it’s details like these that help them thrive as babies and eventually reintegrate back into the wild,” the trust explains in another Facebook post.
The wildlife trust also explains that baby zebras remember the black and white stripe of their mums which is unique like a fingerprint, and use the sense of sight, and smell to identify their mothers among similar-looking members of the family.
In the wild, wild zebra cubs can deeply bond with their mum. Now the baby zebra has surrogate human mums wearing special coats so that Diria does not miss his mother.
A Sheldrick Wildlife spokesperson told the Daily Mail that the staff takes turns giving 24/7 care to the zebra calves.
‘It’s an example of the extra mile our teams go to make sure these animals, that have already suffered so much, can pull through’, a spokesperson was quoted as saying.
Baby Diria is safe amid his surrogate mums, while he grows up to become an independent young stallion.
Meanwhile, according to Rob Brandford, executive director of the Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Diria is “incredibly affectionate with his carers and, perhaps with the exception of his milk, loves nothing more than nuzzling into them as they comfortingly groom him.”
(Cover image courtesy of Sheldrick Wildlife Trust via Facebook)